Most startups and brands crave press coverage to spark conversations and awareness of their products.

After all, press coverage is good for increasing brand recognition.

We’ve all have witnessed how just one piece of content can go viral for a company and yield significant brand awareness along with driving SEO.

However, before seeking out press coverage at any costs, you need to realize that there are risks.

Let’s dive in…

Does Positive or Negative Press Coverage Bring More Benefits?

Looking to quantify the impact of press coverage, Moz completed a study that analyzed the impact of press coverage on SEO, backlinks, traffic, and impact on brand reputation.

geralt / Pixabay

This study looked at the impact that press coverage had on the four distinct questions listed below:

  • Does positive press coverage always bring more benefits than negative press coverage?
  • Beyond the initial spikes in traffic and backlinks, what kind of long-term SEO value can be gained from massive media coverage?
  • Do large brands or unknown brands stand to gain more from a frenzy of media attention?
  • Are negative PR stunts worth the risk? Can the potential long-term benefits outweigh the short-term damage to the brand’s reputation?

Using seven established and startup brands, each who had received a mix of positive and negative media attention and the results of the coverage.

Brands covered included for both positive and negative media coverage were:

  • Roman Originals
  • Airbnb
  • REI
  • Gravity Payments
  • Miss Universe Contest
  • Turning Pharmaceutical and CEO Martin Shkreli
  • Peeple, a new app to rate people

Lessons Learned from these 7 PR Wins and Fails

A substantial increase in press mentions, rather than volume, can yield significant benefits.

Large established brands received far more press and exposure than the smaller startups with the well-known brands receiving 148% more press coverage and headlines along with 190% increase in social shares.

More press coverage and social shares are important, however its not everything.

Unknown brands and startups benefited with a more significant impact than large, established brands. Organic traffic and backlinks were more considerable in volume than the more prominent brands.

monicore / Pixabay

Does Negative or Positive Stories Attract Increased Press Coverage and Social Shares?

In an earlier study, we looked at the what emotions resulted in social shares and demonstrated that negative sentiment with an element of surprise resonates with consumers. This aligns with the results of this Moz study.

Brands with negative stories had 176% more social shares and 172% more headlines than positive, feel-good stories.

Controversial stories include one of the critical aspects and pillars of storytelling. Every story had an adverse character or chain of events that the hero of the story has to overcome or sub-come to. The press is no different than you and I; they love conflict.

This makes sense since conflict is at the center of most significant news stories. Every brand needs to position their target audience consumer as the hero of the story, not the villain.

However there is a limit of conflict that people will tolerate, then all turn negative. Case in point Martin Shkreli and Turning Pharmaceuticals. The reputation damage that both Martin and the brand suffered are beyond repair; he is public enemy number one.

The Unknown and Unexpected Can Result in Significant Press Coverage

Every journalist knows the phrase “When a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

Stories that surprise attract attention. This attention then turns into social shares.

The element of surprise is a critical component is having content go viral; this crucial aspect draws out an emotional response that plays a role in making content go viral and newsworthiness. Adding an element of surprise helps magnify the positive feelings that one experiences, enhancing the emotional response.

Brands Do Not Need to Control Every Aspect of A PR Stunt.

Using a carefully planned PR stunt lets the brand plan for the media’s reaction. When a brand lets go and doesn’t try to control the story completely, they have the ability to cash in on quick, good spirited reactions.

Allowing to let things play out naturally, gives the brand a human element. Nimble brands can take full advantage of these opportunities.

If the initial story garners enough attention, the media will keep reporting on it as the story continues to build. Marketers should continue to pitch story updates and related details to the media as things evolve extending the press coverage well after the initial story broke.

How to Put This to Use:

Create opportunities to use conflict and controversy to your advantage using storytelling. Develop a narrative around a hot topic or trends that are controversial to drive brand awareness:

  • Rocky As a small brand trying to compete against an established brand tell the underdog story. Everyone loves the underdog that overcomes great adversity.
  • Solve the Customer Problem How do you solve the customer’s problem?Use the narrative to describe the point of contention; the problem is the conflict and controversy. Describe how your product helps the customer become the hero of the story to solve the problem in a new, innovative manner.
  • New and Improved Have you reformulated to make your products eco-friendly? IS the product safe for kids with harsh chemicals removed? Tell the story or how you are looking out for the health of both mom and family.
742680 / Pixabay

How to Use Content to Fuel PR Efforts

Spending the time and effort to create content that is newsworthy leads to a more predictable avenue to garner press coverage.

This gives you more control over the story.

Content marketing that is data driven, using a narrative around a hot topic or trends that are controversial is an effective way to drive brand awareness. This makes your story newsworthy and interesting.

Ready to start creating content that drives press coverage?